Friday, August 31, 2018

CELDF’s Ohio Loss Record Now at 86 Percent

by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has been targeting Ohio for six straight years, attempting to pass a total of 35 illegal and unenforceable ballot measures aimed at banning fracking and day-to-day commerce across the state, costing taxpayers across the state hundreds of thousands along the way.
Now eight months after CELDF co-founder Thomas Linzey was slapped with sanctions for similar “bad faith” efforts in Pennsylvania, two Ohio boards of elections have hit him with a two-punch combo, as the Franklin County Board of Elections and the Lucas County Board of Elections recently voted to toss CELDF’s Columbus and Toledo “Community Bill of Rights” measures off their respective ballots this fall, citing Ohio Supreme Court precedent.
CELDF’s fail rate has reached epic proportions in the Buckeye State, as these recent decisions swell the CEDLF Ohio loss record to 86 percent!
In a futile effort to reverse this trend, CELDF has abandoned its anti-fracking narrative over the years and has instead moved to new titles such as the so-called “Toledo Lake Erie Bill of Rights” and the “Youngstown Drinking Water Protection Bill if Rights.” Recall that initially in Youngstown, CELDF called its efforts the “Community Bill of Rights” Fracking Ban Charter Amendment. But after failing again and again — seven consecutive times in fact — CELDF’s strategy has been to change the name of its “rights of nature” campaign to more ambiguous titles, hoping that voters will simply not read the fine print. Clearly, Linzey is at it again with his “bad faith” tactics, as United States District Court Judge Susan Baxter described in the aforementioned Pennsylvania court ruling,
“This Court has determined that Attorneys Linzey and Dunne have pursued certain claims and defenses in bad faith. Based upon prior CELDF litigation, each was on notice of the legal implausibility of the arguments previously advanced…”
“Despite their own prior litigation, CELDF and Attorney Linzey, in particular, continue to advance discredited arguments as a basis for CELDF’s ill-conceived and sponsored CBR, and in doing so have vexatiously multiplied the litigation of this matter.”
As a direct case-in-point to Judge Baxter’s opinion here, CELDF just this week filed a mandamus action with the Ohio Supreme Court, officially challenging the Franklin County Board of Election decision on the Columbus Community Bill of Rights.  Is this at all shocking? Absolutely not. This is the playbook for CELDF: circulate petitions, try to get a measure on a ballot, and even if that fails, appeal and take the issue to court, wasting taxpayer dollars in the process. As Judge Baxter noted only month ago, CELDF is acutely aware that its efforts have no legal basis and are instead a blatant attempt to advance a political agenda.
Here’s exactly what Baxter said and what is playing out in Ohio yet again,
“[A]s made clear by the pattern of CELDF-affiliated litigation (all of which has been led by Attorney Linzey) in the years leading to this action, foregoing sanctions in this instance would be inconsistent with the Court’s duty to ensure that lawyers who practice before it do so ethically and responsibly. An attorney ’s zealous advocacy for the protection of a client’s interests is certainly appropriate; however, the legitimate pursuit of justice imposes important obligations on counsel to ensure that the Court is not a mechanism of harassment or unbridled obstruction.
“The continued pursuit of frivolous claims and defenses, despite Linzey’s first-hand knowledge of their insufficiency, and the refusal to retract each upon reasonable request, substantially and inappropriately prolonged this litigation, and required the Court and PGE to expend significant time and resources eliminating these baseless claims. Accordingly, sanctions are imposed and justified in this instance.”
But of course, why would the Pennsylvania-based CELDF care about any Ohio community, recall that Linzey’s mantra is,
“If a town goes bankrupt trying to defend one of our ordinances, well, perhaps that’s exactly what is needed to trigger a national movement.”
With a loss record at 86 percent, one would think CELDF would just throw in the towel. However, as EID has pointed out before, the longer this group continues on with its antics the more their campaign coffers swell — raising millions for its scams while leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.

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Workers Needed as Oil and Gas Industry Bounces Out of Downturn

From Business Journal Daily:
The oil and gas industry across the state of Ohio is on the rebound and is searching for workers to staff positions representatives say will be in demand for the future. 
Pipeline construction workers, rig operators, welders and thousands of assorted jobs connected with oil and gas processing and end use are among the areas where industry specialists see the most opportunity for employment, industry specialists add. 
“We’re coming out of a downturn, which is really exciting and starting to see some reinvestment,” Mike Chadsey, director of public relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, told about 25 guests during a question-and-answer session with representatives of organized labor, faith-based groups and educators.

The event was held at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 322 in Youngstown and organized by Strategic Resources Consulting. 
Critical job shortages at the moment are evident in transportation, Chadsey said, since the industry depends heavily on moving materials during the construction phase of well pads, for example.
Continue with the article by clicking here.

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PennEnergy is Top Bidder for Rex Energy

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
After rescheduling its bankruptcy auction four times in a week, Rex Energy Corp. called off the event all together and declared PennEnergy Resources LLC the winning bidder. 
Moon-based PennEnergy has agreed to pay $600.5 million for Rex, a State College-based shale driller that filed for bankruptcy protection in May
The acquisition must still gain the approval of the bankruptcy judge. A hearing on the sale agreement is scheduled for Thursday. 
PennEnergy’s CEO Rich Weber said Rex’s acreage, mostly in Butler County, is contiguous to his company’s assets “and we’re very familiar with it.”
Click right here to read more. 

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Utica Shale Academy Names New Director

From The Herald Star:
Rich Wright is taking his administrative and coaching talents to another level as the newest director of the Utica Shale Academy.

Wright, who has been head football coach at Southern Local High School for four years and was its assistant principal for the past three years, assumed his newest duties on Aug. 1. He replaces Eric Sampson, who was director of the community school since its inception in 2014 but departed for another role in education. Wright said he was eager to guide high school students towards success in the growing energy field. 
“You wear a lot of hats, and there are plenty of administrative duties with attendance, testing, graduation points and career opportunities,” he said. “We have welding with the New Castle School of Trades and courses involved with the gas and oil industry. There are a lot of opportunities in the industry and you can get a lot of verifications here.”
Read on by clicking here.

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Belmont County Preparing for Cracker Plant; Final Decision Coming Soon?

From WTOV:

Leaders across the Ohio Valley continue to prepare for a possible cracker plant in Belmont County.

The preparations are happening on both sides of the river.

City leaders in Moundsville said they believe a change is coming and they want to be ready for it.

"This Valley is going to be something very, very special, but we have to get ready and we can't wait,” said Moundsville Vice Mayor Philip Remke. “We have to be prepared, and if for some reason this $10 billion project doesn't come, there is ground and room for something else very special.”
Meanwhile, Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson had this to say at a meeting of the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association:
“What the study revealed was the strategic financial advantage we have over building on the Gulf Coast. … It was a wake-up call for a lot of folks down there,” Thompson said, referring to a conference in Texas. “We had one meeting with Dow Chemical, and they were not exactly happy to hear about that study.” 
Thompson said the Shale Crescent USA region is appealing to a lot of international companies. 
“We think the (PTT Global) thing is going to be positive and hope to hear about that in a month or so,” Thompson said, referring to a potential ethane cracker plant proposed for Belmont County. “But there should be additional cracker plants that get built, because we have that much resource to make that happen.”
Read the rest of that article from the Times Leader by clicking here. 

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Rover Pipeline Laterals Finally Approved by FERC

From an ETP press release:
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE: ETP) announced today that Rover Pipeline, LLC received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to commence service on the Burgettstown and Majorsville supply laterals effective immediately. FERC also approved the associated compressor and metering stations. This latest approval allows for 100 percent of the long-haul contractual commitments on Rover to begin September 1, 2018. 
Rover is a 713-mile natural gas pipeline that transports domestically produced natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica production areas to markets across the United States as well as to the Union Gas Dawn Storage Hub in Ontario, Canada. When in full operation, Rover will transport gas from processing plants in West Virginia, Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania for delivery to pipeline interconnects in West Virginia and Eastern Ohio as well as to the Midwest Hub near Defiance, Ohio, where up to 68 percent of the gas will be delivered for distribution to markets across the U.S. 
Rover received approval from FERC for the full 3.25 Bcf per day on June 1 of this year. Rover began service on the project on August 31, 2017. Restoration activities along the full line are expected to be complete by the end of the year.
View the whole release by clicking here.

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Eclipse Resources Set to Merge With Blue Ridge Mountain Resources

From NGI:
Utica and Marcellus shale operators Eclipse Resources Corp. and Blue Ridge Mountain Resources Inc. agreed to merge on Monday, an all-stock combination to create an Appalachian-focused enterprise with combined 4Q2018 output of 500-560 MMcfe / d, 227,000 net undeveloped core acres and an estimated 20 years of oil and natural gas inventory. 
Blue Ridge will become a subsidiary of Eclipse. Blue Ridge stockholders for each share are to receive 4.4259 shares of Eclipse, a deal that values ​​Eclipse stock at $ 7.44 / share based on the Friday (Aug. 24) closing price. 
Eclipse shareholders would own about about 57.5% of the combined company, with Blue Ridge owning 42.5%. 
Eclipse CEO Benjamin Hulburt, who served as chairman, CEO and president Since its inception, called the merger "compelling" and a "combination that both both of us to consolidate premier assets company's production and cash flow, seamlessly fit into a consolidated drilling program, "as well as provide" considerable "general and administrative synergies. 
Eclipse holds close to 156,000 net acres in Ohio and Pennsylvania, with about 15,500 prospective for the Marcellus. Known for drilling some of the longest super laterals ever in Ohio's Utica, Eclipse has faced a financial crunch. Second quarter production hit the top end of guidance with volumes of 305.2 MMcfe / d.
Read the rest of that article by clicking here.

The Pittsburgh Business Times added this to the story:
Only one of the top Eclipse Resources Corp. management team will be staying with the company after it merges with Blue Ridge Mountain Resources in an all - stock deal worth $ 908 million. 
The combined company, after the deal closes in the fourth quarter, will be run by Blue Ridge President and CEO John Reinhart , who will retain the title. Reinhart will also be a member of the 10-person board, which will also include four others named Blue Ridge (OTCPK: BRMR) and five from Eclipse (NYSE: ECR), including four from Eclipse's majority shareholder, Encap Investments. 
SEC filings show what the news release did not: Eclipse President and CEO Benjamin W. Hulburt; Eclipse EVP / General Counsel Christopher K. Hulburtand Eclipse EVP / CFO Matthew R. DeNezza . All signed separation agreements dated Aug. 24, according to an SEC filing Eclipse made Monday after the merger was announced
Eclipse's EVP and COO, Oleg Tolmachev, who is responsible for a lot of the technical advances made by the drilling company including the record-breaking super lateral wells, will remain with the company with the same titles.
Read more of that article by clicking here. 

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ODNR Releases 2018 2nd Quarter Utica Shale Production Data

From the ODNR:
During the second quarter of 2018, Ohio’s horizontal shale well produced 4,488,104 barrels of oil and 554,306,916 Mcf (545 billion cubic feet) of natural gas, according to figures released today by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). 
Natural gas production from the second quarter of 2018 showed a 42.25% increase over the second quarter of 2017, while oil production increased 10.98% for the same period. 
2017 Quarter 2 (Shale)2018 Quarter 2 (Shale)Percentage Change
Barrels of oil4,044,072 bbl4,488,104 bbl10.98%
Mcf of natural gas389,662,485 Mcf554,306,916 Mcf42.25%

The ODNR quarterly report lists 2,035 horizontal shale wells, 2,002 of which reported oil and natural gas production during the quarter. Of the wells reporting oil and natural gas results: 
  • The average amount of oil produced was 2,242 barrels.
  • The average amount of natural gas produced was 276,877 Mcf.
  • The average number of second quarter days in production was 85.

All horizontal production reports can be accessed at 
Ohio law does not require the separate reporting of Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs) or condensate. Oil and gas reporting totals list on the report include NGLs and condensate.
We'll have our extensive breakdown of the data available soon!

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Eight New Utica Shale Permits Last Week; Rig Count Back to 20

New permits issued last week: 8  (Previous week: 6+2
Total horizontal permits issued: 2873 (Previous week: 2865+8
Total horizontal wells drilled: 2402 (Previous week: 2392+10
Total horizontal wells producing: 1957 (Previous week: 1957+-0
Utica rig count: 20 (Previous week: 19)  +1

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Alarmist Headlines Obscure Context of Duke Study on Water Use and Fracking

by Dan Alfaro, Energy in Depth

new report by researchers from Duke University has triggered some unnecessarily alarmist media reports. Popular Science, for example, ran a story under the headline “New fracking wells are using hundreds of times more water than their predecessors.” While headlines about the report are alarmist, most media accounts fail to put the data into context or note the cause of the increase in water use.
Though it’s true that today’s horizontal wells use more water than their predecessors they also produce significantly more energy. Record-breaking energy, in fact.
And despite the alarmist headlines,  the data still confirm that water usage from oil and natural gas development amounts to a remarkably small percentage overall usage.
Water Usage for Hydraulic Fracturing
The Duke report stresses the increase in the amount of water used per well from 2011 to 2016 — years when the U.S. was producing much more per well — across six different shale plays.
One way that producers have increased output in each well is use of horizontal laterals significantly longer than those used in the earlier years of shale development. The increase in length allows for a single well to extract more oil or natural gas while minimizing surface impact.
Naturally, the longer the lateral, the more water is required to hydraulically fracture the well. This is something the authors of the Duke study clearly acknowledge at the onset of their report:
“Over the period of 2011–2016, the median length of lateral section of horizontal wells also increased, most likely due to technological development and economic considerations to increase the extraction yields from individual wells. We show below that the hydrocarbon extraction intensity has similarly increased during this period. Parallel to the increase in lateral lengths of the horizontal wells and hydrocarbon extraction yields through time, the water use has also increased.”
This is a decade-long trend also highlighted by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in a report released this spring:
“The average new well in each DPR region in 2017 produced more oil than wells drilled in previous years in those same regions, a trend that has persisted for nearly ten consecutive years. More effective drilling techniques, including the increasing prevalence of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, have helped to increase these initial production rates. In particular, the injection of more proppant during the hydraulic fracturing process and the ability to drill longer horizontal components (also known as laterals) have improved well productivity.”
The Duke authors also confirm that the amount of water used by the oil and gas industry is negligible in comparison to other industrial uses for water.
“Despite higher water intensity (the amount of water used to produce a unit of energy; for example, liters per gigajoules) of hydraulic fracturing compared to conventional vertical oil and gas wells, it has been shown that the overall water withdrawal for hydraulic fracturing is negligible compared to other industrial water uses on a national level…”
However, they authors still single-out the industry in a hypothetical scenario that, at some point in the future, water used specifically for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing could cause conflict in areas with “arid” conditions.
One such arid region is the booming Permian Basin. Unsurprisingly, the report expends a significant portion of its word count on Texas’ great natural resource.
“Concern is especially high in semiarid regions where water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing can account for a significant portion of consumptive water use within a given region, even contributing to groundwater resource depletion.”
The report finds that water usage in the Permian has increased 770 percent, and that figure that sounds alarming and has, unfortunately, been used in the media to describe the increase in water usage industry-wide as opposed to being specific to the Permian. The vague wording of the accompanying press release did nothing to help curb that impression.
Here again, just as the use of longer laterals increased production elsewhere, operators in the Permian adjusted their recovery techniques and as a result are producing more energy, according to the EIA.
“The geological structure in the Permian region is more complicated than in other regions, and it took producers more time to advance the drilling and completion technology in the region. However, the Permian region is larger and has more potential for oil production than other regions. Total production and production per new well have increased in the Permian for 11 consecutive years.”
Though the increase in water use in the Permian managed to get the attention of the media and was inaccurately attributed to overall U.S. shale development, the fact remains that shale development’s water impact represents a very small percentage of total water use both in the Permian and throughout the country.
In fact, water used for Texas energy development amounts to slightly more one percent of all water used in the Lone Star State, while water used for fracking specifically amounts to only about 0.5 percent.
As is the case nationwide, more water is used for irrigation than anything else. The Bureau of Economic Geology noted that in Texas “[w]ater use for shale-gas production is relatively minor (<1%) when compared to that for mostly consumptive irrigation (56%) and municipal (26%) water use in Texas in recent years.”
Not unwittingly, media coverage – and the accompanying press release – downplay the good news coming from the Marcellus Shale, where the researchers found the lowest percentage increase. As the report notes, water usage in development of the country’s largest natural gas play has grown by 25 percent, roughly the same pace as production has increased as a result of using longer laterals and flowback water recycling. During this same time frame, natural gas production in the state increased exponentially, as State Impact reports:
“The Duke study is in line with one by Pennsylvania State University in 2015 showing that fracked wells in Pennsylvania used about three times as much water in 2014 than they did in 2009 as drilled laterals extended to an average of 7,000 feet from 2,200 feet.”
As a result of these longer laterals, the wells produced about three times as much gas as before, co-author Dave Yoxtheimer explained to State Impact. He also noted the “roughly ten-fold increase in gas production in the Appalachian Basin since 2010.”
Likewise, EIA data confirms the rise in natural gas production from the Marcellus in the timeframe posed by the Duke study:
Activists and some in the media continuously attempt to paint the oil and natural gas industry as gluttons for water. Reporting on the Duke study mirrors the previous attempts, but the fact remains that the oil and gas industry is using but a small fraction of the nation’s water supply as it produces an energy abundance thought to be impossible even 15 years ago. In fact, the same Duke research team released a study in 2015 that found fracking accounts for just 0.04 percent of total U.S. freshwater use
While we will undoubtedly continue to see reports like this packaged and presented in a way that sound unique and alarming, the fact remains the oil and natural gas industry is continuing to lift America’s economy and its workforce, reduce energy costs for consumers and businesses, and provide long-sought energy security – all while remaining good stewards of the environment.

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Bridging the Gap: New Report Finds Fracking Has ‘Dramatically Raised Up’ Poor Ohio Schools

by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth

An “eye-opening” new report from the Ohio Education Policy Institute (OEPI) finds a direct correlation between Utica Shale development and increased funding for Ohio schools, particularly in “Ohio’s lowest wealth school districts.” More importantly, the Ohio School Boards Association and Buckeye Association of School Administrators-commissioned report highlights how fracking-generated tax revenue has bridged the gap between low wealth and high wealth school districts, particularly in Appalachia.
Report author Howard Fleeter, an economist and “widely respected school funding scholar,” states clearly in the report that, “Fracking has dramatically raised up some poorer district is in eastern Ohio.”
Based on local and state revenue from more than 600 K-12 public schools from FY 1999 to FY 2019, the report is particularly significant coming on the heels of a 1997 Ohio Supreme Court ruling which basically said that Ohio’s formula for funding public schools relied too much on property tax revenues, disproportionately hurting lower-wealth school districts. In other words, Ohio school districts were at the mercy of their local property tax revenues each year. The Ohio Supreme Court found this method was unconstitutional and more or less told the Ohio legislature that something needed to change to bridge the gap between poor and wealthy school districts.
So for the past 20 years, Ohio lawmakers have been tasked with fixing the formula. The debate has been ongoing every year since the Ohio Supreme Court’s landmark decision and has been a capstone of virtually every Ohio gubernatorial, state senate and state representative race since. According to the OEPI, state funding to address these problems increased the first 10 years after the Ohio Supreme Court ruling, but has decreased in the second decade since the decision, while also failing to keep pace with inflation. Still, despite the shortfall distribution from the state budget over the past 10 years, many low-wealth school districts have realized hundreds of millions in new revenue. How can that be?
As Fleeter acknowledged, the change agent to “dramatically” lifting up poor schools has been fracking, not the state budget, and not taxpayer dollars. But frankly, Fleeter hasn’t seen anything yet! The real kicker is that Utica shale development and the tax revenue generated from the natural gas lifecycle have only just started to scratch the surface of the incredible revenue impact yet to come. That’s because ad valorem real estate taxes paid on production are allocated two years after a well is put into production and only after pipelines and power plants become operational.
The latter fact noted, revenues are projected to increase significantly in the near future thanks to surging Utica Shale production and related activity. A 2017 EID reported entitled “Utica Shale Local Support Series: Ohio’s Oil and Gas Industry Property Tax Payments” shows that ad valorem property taxes paid on oil and gas production poured in over $45 million from 2011 to 2015, but they are estimated to surge to $200-$250 million from 2016 to 2026, as development and production continue to increase.
In addition to this revenue, EID has estimated that another $1.2 billion in tax revenue will be generated from pipelines, most of which are now operational, which means midstream companies are on the hook to start paying revenue into every single school district their pipelines transverse through.
The gas flowing through the pipelines will be used to fuel new natural gas power plants sprouting up all over the state. Just one of these gas power plants will bring a single Ohio school district more than $42 million in tax revenue.
This revenue goes directly to local school districts where shale-related activities — including oil and natural gas production, pipeline transport and natural-gas powered electricity generation — are taking place. And let’s not forget the significant additional social investments made by Utica Shale operators to these schools over the past decade through scholarships STEM workshops, teacher trainings, school uniforms, athletic programs and more – dollars that were not even included in OEPI report, yet are essentially revenue for these school districts as well. Not surprisingly, the fracking facts related to bridging the school funding gap between Ohio’s poorest and wealthiest schools has been conveniently excluded from almost all media reporting on this new report, despite the author’s own admission of the facts that shale has indeed been a “dramatic” influence.
While politicians may continue to debate the formula to address the revenue gap between wealthy and poor Ohio school districts, the data is clear — shale development has and will continue to quietly address these extremely important funding issues (and without any pomp and circumstance), which is why Ohioans continue to overwhelming support oil and natural gas development.

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Cabot Oil and Gas Target Richland County for Next Test Well

From the Mansfield News Journal:
Officials of Cabot Oil and Gas Company said they are looking at a test site in Richland County to determine if horizontal hydraulic fracturing wells may produce a viable source of natural gas and or oil deep underground.

The officials did not give a specific location when they met Tuesday with the Richland County commissioners to give an overview of current operations in a neighboring county. 
The Houston-based company, which has a new local information office in Jeromesville, is drilling vertical exploratory wells on Township Road 2375 in Green Township north of Perrysville, and in Mohican Township south of Jeromesville. They are planning a third in Vermillion Township. In Richland County, Cabot officials said they have talked with officials in Monroe Township and the villages of Lucas and Butler, as well as an area landowner coalition. 
“We’re evaluating an area and we believe we’re going to be submitting a permit in the near term,” said John Smelko, environmental regulations manager. “The road it leads on is going to be a state route and, in most cases, we try to stay on state routes as much as we can.”
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Duke University Continues Fracking Research with Report on Water Use

From StateImpact Pennsylvania:
Water use for fracking by oil and gas operators in the Marcellus Shale region rose 20 percent between 2011 and 2016 as longer laterals were drilled to fracture more gas-bearing rock, even though the pace of well development slowed in response to low natural gas prices, a Duke University study said on Wednesday. 
The rise was the smallest of any of the six U.S. regions studied, including the Permian Basin area of Texas, where water use surged by 770 percent over the period. 
The study also said the volume of fracking waste water produced in the Marcellus – which includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia, eastern Ohio and southern New York, where fracking is banned — rose four-fold to 600,000 gallons in 2016, forcing energy companies to rely increasingly on holding the waste in underground injection wells. 
But the Marcellus waste water increase was also significantly smaller than other regions, where it rose as high as 1,440 percent during the period, the report said. 
Although fewer new wells were drilled during the period than in the early stages of the fracking boom, more water was needed because longer wells required the fracturing of more rock, said Andrew Kondash, the paper’s lead author.
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